Known for its spectacular views and world-class dining experiences, Yamashiro Hollywood truly embodies the booming Los Angeles food culture. Appealing to both the savvy locals and the curious tourists, Yamashiro proves itself to be more than just a restaurant: it’s a must-see landmark that defines the spirit of Hollywood with its rich cinematic history, delicious culture fusion-inspired food, occasional celebrity sightings, and ultra-glamorous views of the LA skyline.
When you first make your way up the winding Hollywood Hills, you will be greeted by the helpful valets and the welcoming sight of impressive Japanese-inspired architecture. With the name Yamashiro translating into English as “Mountain Palace,” you’ll soon see just how fitting this name is. Containing details reminiscent of provincial Kyoto architecture, the expansive property boasts a gorgeous open air garden courtyard, priceless displays of authentic Japanese artifacts, and various rooms to hold events. And we don’t want you to miss out on any of it. With no further ado, I present to you The Insider’s Guide to Exploring Yamashiro Hollywood.
1. Dinner and a Movie for the Entertainment Lovers
For the past few decades, Yamashiro has had the incredible honor of hosting the set of some serious blockbusters. Film buffs might recognize Yamashiro as the legendary location for movies such as Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), Kill Bill (2003), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). It has also been featured in TV shows such as I Spy, My Three Sons, and True Detective, as well as music videos like Pitbull and Fifth Harmony’s collaboration for “Por Favor” and David Guetta’s “Flames.” I recommend watching (or rewatching) some of these fan favorites, then making a game with your dinner company for who can spot the real-life version of these iconic backdrops first.
When you visit, make sure you bring your camera so you can show your friends that you visited one of the set locations for these iconic works. It’s hard not to feel like the main character when you’re enjoying perfectly crispy Truffle Fries and melt-in-your-mouth Filet Mignon from a location that most people will only ever see on the big screen.
2. Don’t skip out on drinks!
When most people think about Yamashiro, they usually think about the stunning Hollywood vistas and mouth watering food. While this is totally understandable, I personally think that their specialty drinks should share just as much of the glory. With distinct and creative Japanese-inspired cocktails and aperitifs, Yamashiro’s Pagoda Bar is quite impressive. Personally, I recommend the Drunken Dragon’s Milk, a green tea-infused vodka with coconut puree and hints of pandan, as well as the Double Happiness Specialty Cocktail with smooth Altos Plata Tequila and punches of pineapple and rhubarb. Yamashiro’s delicious drinks are the perfect pair for the gorgeous views and noteworthy dishes.
3. Planning Dates for the Hopeless Romantics
After one of the most notoriously stormy Los Angeles winters, this upcoming spring season is bound to produce some of the most incredible blooms in recent history. And what better way to enjoy the flourishing florals than from Yamashiro’s Garden Courtyard? Thoughtfully adorned with sculpted bonsai trees and a charming red bridge, this courtyard is a top-notch spot to feast on fresh shrimp cocktails and specialty sushi rolls with your date. I would recommend splitting a few appetizers and rolls so you and your date could taste a little bit of everything; with fresh salmon and tuna, delicate truffle aioli, creamy spicy mayo, and umami eel sauce, one of my personal favorites is the Yamashiro roll.
Then, after enjoying the ambiance at the center of this mountain palace, you can go for a romantic stroll past a sparkling swimming pool down to Yamashiro’s famous 600-year-old pagoda. Known for being the oldest structure in California, a visit to this sacred building is sure to bring a bit of luck and longevity to your relationship. Set against the backdrop of the Los Angeles skyline, this historic spot is perfect for wishing on stars and making life-long memories.
4. For the Girls’ Nights and Guys’ Nights Out
One of the best spots to dine at dusk in Los Angeles, the Sunset Room is also a superb place to catch up with old friends or book an event with a larger group of people! Harboring a bit more privacy from the main rooms of the restaurant, this intimate setting is ideal for sipping on a few too many glasses of sake and sharing a sushi boat full of the chef’s selection of sashimi, nigiri, assorted rolls, and hand rolls. This is also the best place to sit on those windy spring nights when outdoor seating might be a little too cold for comfort. With huge, west-facing windows, cozy table settings, and just a hint of Japanese flora, this picturesque room is just what your Instagram feed needs!
After enjoying your meal, I would recommend taking your group to the outdoor gardens surrounding the Yamashiro grounds. While the attractions have changed since the original design of tea houses and miniature replicas of Japanese villages, the current gardens still look like something from a movie. With luxurious water features, bonsai trees, and Japanese pines, the Yamashiro gardens are home to dozens of koi. Because of the koi fish’s impressive ability to swim against the current, they symbolize success, luck, strength, and harmony in many Asian cultures. Make sure to pay a visit to these courageous creatures on your way out to add just a bit of luck to your life!
5. Spill Secrets like a Silver Screen Star
So now that you’ve planned your outing to Yamashiro, it’s time to learn a bit more beyond what initially meets the eye. Once a safe haven for Old Hollywood’s brightest stars during a time when entertainers were frowned upon by society, Yamashiro used to host an exclusive clubhouse called the “400 Club.” With members and founders including Charlie Chaplin, Raymond Griffith, Sam Goldwyn, and the Warner Brothers, the top-secret 400 Club at Yamashiro was only the beginning of the restaurant’s celebrity-infused history.
While the club no longer exists, Yamashiro still serves as one of Hollywood’s most famous celebrity hotspots. When you eat your dinner, keep an eye out for some familiar faces! Some celebrities who have been spotted at Yamashiro in the past include Johnny Depp, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Dolly Parton, Mel Gibson, Gwyneth Paltrow, LeAnn Rimes, and Joe Pesci. Once a sanctuary for Hollywood’s elite from Hollywood’s darker side, Yamashiro is one of the best places for locals to get a breath of fresh air from the chaos of the city.
6. Go again each season
While Yamashiro is well-known for its exquisite Charred Octopus, flavorful sushi rolls, gorgeous pork bao buns, fresh oysters, and melt-in-your-mouth wagyu steaks, the restaurant is also notorious for changing its menu quite often. With so much to celebrate in the realm of Japanese fusion, Yamashiro introduces plenty of new dishes each season. I highly recommend revisiting at the start of this spring in order to taste each new dish for yourself while, of course, re-ordering some of your old favorites.